Multiple Violations Found at MS Paper Co, $300K+ Fines Issued

Natchez, MS – OSHA has cited paper products manufacturer von Drehle Corporation for multiple workplace safety hazards and issued $303,657 in potential penalties, including one for the maximum amount allowed by law.

OSHA investigators found that the company’s Natchez (MS) facility put employees at risk of injury through exposure to electrical hazards, lack of machine guarding, failure to lockout machinery and control hazardous energy, by exposing employees to the dangers of arc flash, and by allowing slip, trip, and fall hazards.

OSHA’s Area Office Director stated that “employers are required to assess potential hazards, and make necessary corrections to ensure a safe workplace…[This] inspection multiple violations finesresults demonstrate workplace deficiencies existed, putting workers at serious risk of injury or death.”

Von Drehle Corp issued a statement regarding the citations at their Natchez facility: “Employee safety is the utmost important priority for von Drehle, which is why we fully cooperated with OSHA throughout the inspections.”

Von Drehle is headquartered in Hickory, North Carolina, and manufacturers industrial and commercial paper products like tissue and paper towels at facilities in North Carolina, Mississippi, Nevada and Tennessee.

Employers are responsible for providing safe and healthful workplaces for their employees under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970. OSHA sets workplace safety standards and enforces these conditions on behalf of American workers. Martin Technical supports industry by providing compliance support such as comprehensive Lockout/Tagout and Electrical Safety programs as well as employee training on all aspects of workplace safety. Contact a member of our Safety Team today to discuss how we can be your partner in safety.

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Electrical Panel Explosion Hospitalizes Two TX Workers

Conroe, TX – An electrical panel explosion and fire electrical panel explosionat Aegion Coating Services’ production plant sent two electricians to the hospital this month.

Investigators say two electricians were seriously burned when a high voltage electrical panel they were working on exploded.

According to the local Fire Marshal, multiple agencies responded to the emergency and the facility was evacuated as a precaution. One report described heavy black smoke billowing from a large warehouse at the site. The fire caused by the electrical panel explosion was quickly put out by firefighters. The chemicals present at this plant were a concern for area firefighters, but it was reported that no chemicals were released and local residents were not evacuated.

Both affected electricians were transported to the hospital for burn treatments, but were back to work when the plant was authorized to resume operations later that same day.

The Aegion chemical plant facility north of Houston specializes in pipeline coatings for both onshore and offshore installations. The incident is currently under investigation by the County Fire Marshal’s Office.

Please contact Martin Technical to learn more about Electrical and Arc Flash safety.

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Fatality at Australian Power Plant Reportedly Caused by Arc Flash

Yallourn, Victoria, Australia – A fatal explosion at an Australian Power Station is said to have been the result of a phase-to-phase arc flash. A unit controller with more than 30 years’ experience was critically injured during the explosion in the southeastern-most state of Australia which lead to his death the next day.

EnergyAustralia has identified arc flash as the cause of the explosion at the Yallourn Power Station, however a local union representative is not confident in that explanation and staff at the power station say they are afraid to go to work.

Graeme Edwards died after a high-voltage circuit breaker he was working on exploded last month. Edwards was re-installing a high-voltage circuit breaker on one of the plant’s four generation units when the explosion occurred, a procedure known as “racking.” EnergyAustralia stated that racking is a routine job but potentially hazardous. In this case, the unit burst into flames that burnt most of Edwards’ body. The worker was flown to hospital in a critical condition but died a day later.fatality arc flash

EnergyAustralia said it believed the “sudden electrical discharge” was caused by a “phase-to-phase arc flash.” However, they have yet to determine what caused the short circuit which is the source of union and worker worries about the safety of the workplace.

An Arc Flash is an electrical explosion due to a fault condition or short circuit when either a phase to ground or phase to phase conductor is connected and current flows through the air. Arc flashes cause electrical equipment to explode and can result in an arc-plasma fireball with temperatures in excess of 35,000° F. For reference, the surface of the sun is 9000° F. These extreme temperatures cause rapid heating of surrounding air and extreme pressures, resulting in an arc blast. The arc flash/blast can vaporize all solid copper conductors as they expand up to 67,000 times original volume. The arc flash produces fire, intense light, pressure waves, and flying shrapnel.

Yallorn Power Station workers will not be asked to use affect equipment involved in the incident until EnergyAustralia determines that it is safe to do so. An executive of Yallourn Power Station has said that risk assessments are being conducted and that all safety controls will be reviewed prior to resuming work.

A representative of the union which advocates for the workers at Yallourn Power station has voiced concerns that workers were not provided with the most up-to-date protective gear, including arc flash suits, similar to what bomb disposal workers use.

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Telsa Fined $110,863 for Unauthorized Worker’s Injury

Palo Alto, CA – Tesla plans to appeal their largest OSHA fine to date. As the parent company of SolarCity, Tesla was fined $110,863 for 10 violations following the electrical shock and subsequent hospitalization of an inadequately trained SolarCity employee in December of 2017.

OSHA identified 10 worker safety violations at a SolarCity solar panel installation in Amherst, Mass. Four SolarCity employees had completed construction of a 19-acre solar farm at Hampshire College when one of the workers attempted to take a cellphone photo of an electrical panel. The employee suffered electrical shock and burn injuries when he entered theunauthorized worker electrical panel which was energized at 13,800 volts.

Federal safety investigators found that Tesla failed to provide workers with adequate training or protective gear. According to OSHA, the four SolarCity workers were wearing only Class 0 safety gloves, a rating which would protect them only up to 1,000 volts of electricity. OSHA found that the workers had each completed a Tesla-mandated online safety class, however they had not been required to demonstrate safety proficiency. Additionally, none of the workers onsite that day could tell investigators how far away they should have been standing from a 13,800-volt energy source, and Tesla hadn’t conducted required inspections of its safety procedures.

Without having demonstrated proficiency following their training, none of the four SolarCity employees could be considered Certified, Authorized, or Competent Persons under the law. OSHA requires that a “competent person” be one who is capable of identifying existing and predictable hazards in the surroundings or working conditions which are hazardous or dangerous to employees, and “who has authorization to take prompt corrective measures to eliminate them.” Without Authorized or Competent Person certification, these were not approved to perform specific electrical duties at the jobsite.

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TN Lineman Recovering from Arc Flash

Dickson, TN – On August 25, Dickson Electric Systems substation supervisor Zach Spicer suffered second-degree burns to his face and neck in an arc flash incident at the DES Old White Bluff Substation.

According to the victim’s sister-in-law, Spicer “was accessing a breaker cabinet, high voltage side when contact or an arc formed, causing an electrical fault that released heat and energy…He remembers stammering around and seeing everyone’s expression looking at him.”

Two days after the burns, doctors determined that Spicer had not lost his eyesight and during the skin graft surgery they were able to not only save his right hand, but also his fingertips.

Spicer remains at the Vanderbilt Medical Center Burn Unit where he has undergone three surgeries and numerous procedures.

A second Dickson Electric Systems employee also suffered severe barc flashurns to his face and neck in the incident. He was released the evening of the accident and is recovering at home.

An Arc Flash is an electrical explosion caused by a fault condition or short circuit when either a phase to ground or phase to phase conductor is connected and current flows through the air. Arc flashes cause electrical equipment to explode, resulting in injury or death to workers and destruction of electrical equipment.

Temperatures can exceed 35,000° F. For reference, the surface of the sun is 9000° F. These extreme temperatures rapid heat and expand surrounding air – the extreme change in pressure is known as an arc blast. The arc flash and blast will likely vaporize all solid copper conductors. These conductors expand up to 67,000 times their original volume when vaporized. The arc flash and blast produce fire, intense light, pressure waves, and flying shrapnel.

When an arc flash happens, it does so without warning and is lightning quick. The result of this violent event is usually destruction of the equipment involved, fire, and severe injury or death to any nearby people. Proper safety and protection measures must be taken to limit the damage from an arc flash which include conducting an arc flash study, short circuit study, and NFPA 70E electrical safety training.

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NZ Electrical Worker Survives Arc Flash Accident

Wellington, New Zealand – An electric utility worker in New Zealand has been awarded more than $85,000 in compensation after suffering serious burns in an electrical arc flash while working at a Wellington substation in 2014. The heat of the arc flash was so severe that the man’s pants melted on his legs.

The electrical accident occurred when two Northpower employees were performing maintenance work on roadside transformers. A bracket fell onto live contacts, causing an electrical short and arc flash. In court, the injured man testified that he had pulled a transformer off a panel, and was then hit by the arc flash and flames.

The electrician, who was 20 when the accident occurred, described the pain, trauma and ongoing effects of the incident in court last week. “I pulled the transformer off the panel and all I could hear was myself arc flash accidentscreaming and the flames and the arc flash,” he told Wellington District Court on Thursday. “All I could feel was intense heat and there was me, running for my life.”

An Arc Flash is an electrical explosion due to a fault condition or short circuit when either a phase to ground or phase to phase conductor is connected and current flows through the air. Temperatures may exceed 35,000° F. For reference, the surface of the sun is 9000° F.

These high temperatures cause rapid heating of surrounding air and extreme pressures, resulting in an arc blast. The arc flash will likely vaporize all solid copper conductors which will expand up to 67,000 times their original volume when vaporized. An arc flash produces fire, intense light, pressure waves, and flying shrapnel any of which can cause electrical equipment to explode, resulting in injury or death to workers and destruction of electrical equipment.

When an arc flash happens, it does so without warning and is lightning quick. The result of this violent event is usually destruction of the equipment involved, fire, and severe injury or death to any nearby people. Proper safety and protection measures must be taken to limit the damage from an arc flash which include conducting an arc flash study, short circuit study, and NFPA 70E electrical safety training.

The court ruled that Wellington Electricity and Northpower failed to provide clear instructions to prompt workers to stop if they encountered increased risks or conditions; was responsible for not shutting off the power before work was undertaken; and for not documenting hazard assessments. The 2014 incident led to immediate changes in Northpower’s work practices, including a new approach to planning and risk assessment.

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Workers Concerned About Layoffs after Plant Hit with Over $350,000 in Fines

Carthage, NY – A paperboard facility in upstate New York is facing 61 citations and nearly $360,000 in OSHA fines, prompting many employees to worry about layoffs. Federal safety inspectors found that Carthage Specialty Paperboard’s Carthage mill lacked safety guards to prevent amputations, and locks that halt start-ups during equipment maintenance.

In addition to the failures in lockout/tagout and machine safety, OSHA inspectors also found that employees did not receive required training or safety equipment and were sent into confined spaces without atmospheric testing or rescue protocols in place.

OSHA area director Christopher Adams stated that “the violations found during this investigation put employees at serious risk of injury or even worse…This is a significant number of hazards for a single workplace.”

Electrical hazards were also cited in OSHA’s report. They documented a lack of safety equipment or training for employees working on electrical systems charged with up to 2,300 volts of electlayoffricity.

Safety locks were missing on machines to that prevent them from being turned on during routine maintenance – these locks and safety procedures are known as Lockout/Tagout. OSHA requires that equipment specific lockout procedures be written for each piece of equipment. These lockout procedures provide detailed instruction on how to isolate and lock each energy source for a given piece of equipment, helping to prevent the unexpected energization or startup of machinery and equipment, or the release of hazardous energy during service or maintenance activities.

Carthage Specialty Paperboard representatives say that the mill is old, which is why it has many of these problems. A United Steelworkers Union representative says that investment is needed: “It needs money. It’s an old mill. Old mills take investment to keep running.” Carthage Specialty Paperboard is owned by Delta Point which has invested $3 million into the mill over the last several years and has said it plans to put in another $2 million. Mill workers are worried about the state of their jobs. The labor representative said that “if they don’t see Delta Point coming in with money to invest in the facility, there’s a lot of anxiety.”

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Worker Fatality at Goodyear Plant in Topeka

Topeka, KS – A worker fatality at the Goodyear Tire facility in Topeka has Goodyear and a local staffing agency facing combined OSHA fines of over $40,000 and multiple federal safety citations.

Kansas Personnel Services had hired James Lay, Jr. to work at the north Topeka Goodyear plant early on March 14 when he was killed. Reports have not detailed the nature of the worker fatality, however officials have classified it as an accident.

OSHA has levied three serious violations against Goodyear Tire and Rubber, Inc. and two more serious penalties against Kansas Personnel Services (which also goes by the name Key Staffing). The combined fines exceed $40,000.

OSHA documented that Goodyear failed to make sure metal pieces leftworker fatality leaning against a wall did not create a hazard; had pendant boxes that were not constructed to prevent electric shock; and did not inspect alloy steel chain slings on a regular basis or did so at intervals greater than a year. In all, Goodyear was fined $27,713.00.

Kansas Personnel Services was fined $12,675 for allegedly failing to make sure metal pieces were left leaning against a wall did not create a hazard; and not ensuring each operator had successfully completed their training.

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Renewable Energy Plant Fined for Multiple Hazards

South Sioux City, IA – Electrical, mechanical, and chemical hazards were among the violations found at the Big Ox renewable energy plant following a six month OSHA investigation. The six serious violations issued there represent over $50,000 in fines.

Gas exposure first brought this facility to OSHA’s attention after a contractor working at the facility was hospitalized due to hydrogen sulfide exposure. Just two months later, a maintenance worker was treated and released in another incident of hydrogen sulfide exposure. Earlier this year, another two workers were suffered chemical exposure, and one was hospitalized for chemical burns.renewable energy

Hazardous energy violations were also found at Big Ox Energy while OSHA conducted it’s investigation of the chemical exposure incidents.

OSHA reports show a failure to develop and implement energy control and lockout-tagout procedures for each piece of equipment, including Big Ox’s gas energy mixing system, centrifuge, raw-feed and digester pumps. According to OSHA, employees were exposed to electrical hazards, flowing wastewater, and chemical and mechanical hazards while performing equipment maintenance. Additional citations were issued for failing to ensure each authorized employee affixed his or her own lock or tag to certain devices prior to working on the equipment.

Confined space concerns were also cited. OSHA found a failure to retain confined space entry permits.

Additionally, Big Ox was cited for failure to ensure employees had eye and face protection to keep them safe from hazards like pressurized liquid wastewater. At the end of 2016, a Big Ox Energy employee wearing only safety glasses suffered lacerations, cheek and eye socket fractures, and chipped teeth after being struck by pressurized wastewater and a hose nozzle.

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Accident at Refinery Power Distribution Center Sends 4 to Hospital

Whiting, IN – The power distribution center at BP’s Whiting Refinery was the scene of an industrial accident last week which sent 4 workers to the hospital.

Details are still limited, but reports from Friday, April 28 indicate that four oil workers were taken by ambulance to area hospitals following an incident at a power distribution center inside the refinery. In a statement, BP said that there was no “impact to power distributionthe environment or the local community.”

The BP Whiting Refinery in northwestern Indiana is described as “sprawling,” and employs more than 1,800 workers as the largest refinery in the Midwest. The facility converts crude oil from Canada and the Dakotas into gasoline sold across the Midwestern United States.

The timing of this industrial accident was unfortunate in that April 28th was Worker’s Memorial Day, an annual event organized by USW chapters nationwide to observe and remember workers killed or injured on the job. Worker’s Memorial Day is designed to highlight workplace safety and accident prevention.

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